Thursday, May 28, 2009
Karin Brulliard's May 21 article, "U.S. Outreach on Rough Seas Off Western Africa" missed the point.
U.S. military "outreach" on Africa's seas and land is in search not of pirates but of oil. Oil-producing countries in Africa, including Gabon, now provide 24 percent of U.S. oil imports. Africa has outstripped the Middle East as an oil supplier to America. Increasingly, Africa's oil is being produced offshore. The effort to strengthen the U.S. military (and naval) presence in West Africa's oil-rich Gulf of Guinea is to secure the ever-present fix for the United States' addiction to fossil fuels.
Gabon's Omar Bongo is Africa's longest-running "president for life." Since 1967, his rule has been ruthless and repressive. Yet U.S. taxpayer dollars are being used to train and arm his military. The Obama administration can and must do better by ending our addiction to oil, curbing the flow of arms, and rebuking irresponsible leaders and their militaries.
The writer is co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies.